January 15, 2018 Robert Slutsky

What is a Special Needs Trust? A Special Needs Trust is a trust, authorized under federal law, that holds the funds of a disabled beneficiary and allows the beneficiary to qualify for means tested public benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Were those same assets owned directly by the disabled person, they would…

January 10, 2018 Robert Slutsky

Understand Decisional Capacity: Be aware that capacity is not an all-or-nothing thing. A family member may have some capacities at some times but are gradually losing others. Financial capacity and financial judgment often decline before other functions. So it is important to get help to evaluate capacity. It will help give you a clearer picture…

January 2, 2018 Robert Slutsky

Slutsky Elder Law Presents Guest Contributors: Middle-aged Adults are Sandwiched in Between Aging Parents and Kids America is faced with an aging population and a generation of adults who may need to take care of their parents, while caring for the children and young adults in their household. Demands on the sandwichers are increasing as…

December 27, 2017 Robert Slutsky

At this time of year most of us reflect on what went well and not as well as we like in the past year and commit to doing better.  This reboot is needed even if we had a great year.  Even if you had some challenges in the last year, I bet you can find…

December 26, 2017 Robert Slutsky

Interested in Learning the New Tax Brackets? 1. Standard Deduction: The new tax law changes the standard deduction to $12,000 on single returns, $18,000 for head-of-household filers and $24,000 on joint returns … up from $6,350, $9,350 and $12,700 in 2017.  Individuals age 65 or older and blind people get even higher standard deductions. Two…

December 12, 2017 Robert Slutsky

                            Ann Schoonover and Wendy Walsh from Surrey Services for Seniors Join                                  Slutsky Elder Law as Guest Contributors What is an Aging Life Care Manager? Aging…

November 27, 2017 admin

Would you like a few tips about Nursing Home Admission Agreements? Common Concerns with Agreements: Concern: Some nursing home admission agreements assume that certain injuries are inevitable.  They limit the care for the resident and force the resident to hire private duty caregivers. Response: Federal law requires the nursing home to provide the care necessary…

November 18, 2017 admin

Is a Roth IRA right for you? A Roth IRA is a different type of IRA and it may work for you.  In its basic form an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is an account that you can contribute funds free of federal income taxes.  You can contribute up to $5,500 per person (or $6,500 per…

November 6, 2017 admin

Most of us are aware of the approaching holiday season, particularly Thanksgiving. At least the person in your gang who is in charge of the menu details is pondering this. Now a couple stories may play out in some families during this time. For those of us who have to marshal this culinary three-ring circus,…

November 1, 2017 admin

Is There a Large Scale Problem with Court Appointed Guardians? In my opinion, the answer to the question of “is there a large scale problem with court appointed guardians” is “no.”  In the 20+ years I’ve been working in elder law and in almost that much time representing a busy Older Adult Protective Services unit,…

November 1, 2017 admin

Colleen Consolo from Consolo & Harbison Law Firm Joins Slutsky Elder Law as a Guest Contributor   Getting a Divorce? Going through a Divorce can be difficult at any stage in life.  Each stage of life has its own pitfalls and issues that are unique in the divorce process.  When approaching or at retirement age there…

October 31, 2017 admin

Marty Sherman from Sherman Insurance Consulting, LLC Joins Slutsky Elder Law as a Guest Contributor Which way should you go with Medicare? “Medicare” is Health Insurance that is available for people 65 and older. Also, it is available for people younger than 65 who have been on “Social Security Disability” for 24 months. However, it…

October 9, 2017 admin

What if there is a problem and you are not around the corner to help? Being a long distance caregiver for an elderly or disabled loved one is tough. Here are some tips for long distance caregivers: Hire a local care manager. Create a Contact List. Put together a contact list of medical providers, insurance…

October 9, 2017 admin

 How do Medicare and Employer Coverage Work Together? Medicare benefits start at age 65, but many people continue working past that age, either by choice or need. It is important to understand how Medicare and employer coverage work together.   Depending on your circumstances, Medicare is either the primary or secondary insurer. The primary insurer…

October 6, 2017 admin

What Factors Should You Consider When Utilizing Your Retirement Funds? Today few people have defined benefit pensions anymore.  The vast majority of us now rely on 401(k) or IRA self-directed and self-funded retirement plans.  Not only does this put the risk of investing and having enough money to retire on but it also places upon…

July 10, 2017 admin

Alzheimer’s Disease vs Age Related Memory Loss There was a recent article discussing Nobel Prize-winning Professor Eric Kandel’s 50+ years of research on the topic of memory loss and Alzheimer’s Disease. It described how, while some of the newer medications are making a difference, they are often less effective because they are not used until…

July 10, 2017 admin

With the Senate now releasing their version of the Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement I thought it would be good to go over what the proposed laws (House and Senate versions) did and did not do. However, I have been beaten to the punch by people both more knowledgeable and more articulate on the…

February 13, 2017 admin

Should All States Permit the Use of Medicaid for Assisted Living? The question of using Medicaid funds for assisted living is a big one for many in the elder care field. As we have discussed before, Medicaid is a joint state and federal program. The federal law lists broad eligibility rules, The states will get roughly…

January 31, 2017 admin

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article Collapse of Long-Term Care Insurer Reflects Deep Industry Woes. The article focuses on “[t]wo insurance units of Penn Treaty American Corp., which have combined assets of about $600 million and projected long-term-care claims liabilities topping $4 billion,[which] are on track to be liquidated early next year, according…

January 3, 2017 admin

  New Year Wishes And Thoughts of Gratitude I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my clients, colleagues and friends for all that you have given to me in 2016. At this time of year I look back and reflect on how lucky I have been. I am blessed to have a wonderful,…

January 2, 2017 admin

Affordable Care Act:  Impact on Older Adults Repealing The Affordable Care Act Will Not Only Affect the Young One of President-elect’s Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, and Republicans in Congress have vowed to make the repeal one of their first acts in the new term. While…

December 12, 2016 admin

Medicaid Block Grant Proposal Medicaid block grants  . . . again?  Regardless of your political persuasion it is quite evident that benefits for the older and disabled and likely to change when Donald Trump becomes president. Obviously things said during the campaign process do not always materialize. However, the appointments being made to high level…

December 12, 2016 admin

New Law Allows People with Disabilities to Create Special Trust Finally. The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, federal legislation that will allow people with disabilities to create their own special needs trusts instead of having to rely on others, has passed the Congress. The measure was included in the 21st Century Cures Act, a $6.3…

October 19, 2016 admin

The phrase “asset protection planning” means a variety of things depending on who is asking for protection and the type of professional who hears the question. For example, a financial advisor whose client asks about asset protection will likely want to discuss investment strategy, diversification, “safe” investments, and rates of return, with the aim of…

April 5, 2016 admin

ESTATE OF: WILLIAM F. BINNIG Medicaid Planning: The Importance of a Well Drafted Power of Attorney This is a recent Pennsylvania Superior Court case that highlights how important a power of attorney can be in proper planning. In this case an executor who was also the agent under a power of attorney for the decedent…

March 11, 2016 admin

Preparing for long-term care costs is hard to predict and will be costly to mitigate. Few have prepared for this gathering storm. Private long-term care insurance is available, of course, to help pay for expensive services if you are mentally or physically incapacitated late in life, but it is a notoriously confusing and not always…

February 15, 2016 admin

Who Has Standing to Challenge the Actions of an Agent Under a Power of Attorney? This question is often asked to me when someone is concerned about abuse of an older adult who no longer has the ability to advocate for him or herself. The answer depends largely on whether or not the grantor of…

February 15, 2016 admin

Nursing Home Quality:  New Report from the Government Accounting Office The Government Accounting Office (GAO) did a recent study of nursing home quality that produced both interesting and mixed results.  Although complaints are up, potential improvements in nursing home quality have been reported. Quality standards for nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs…

January 11, 2016 admin

Medicare will Cover Conversations About End of Life Care With My Doctor? Medicare beneficiaries may now discuss options for end of life care with their health care providers. Beneficiaries were already free to talk about advance care planning with their doctors, but the practitioners could be reimbursed for such discussions only during a patient’s “Welcome…

January 8, 2016 admin

Six Myths About Living Wills As you contemplate end of life issues, misinformation can make the  topic of living wills and advance directives confusing.   Below are six common myths about living wills and advance directives, followed by the actual facts. Myth #1  You must have a living will to stop treatment near the end of…

December 15, 2015 admin

Q: Rob, should I use one of those online legal services to do my estate planning documents? A:  Today, you can learn almost anything online. There are TV channels, websites, apps, programs and old fashioned classes devoted to DIY (Do It Yourself). LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, among other online services, attempt to streamline the process…

November 24, 2015 admin

The Perils and Pitfalls of Doing Asset Protection Planning on Your Own Dealing with long-term care planning is a daunting process. Very complicated state and federal Medicaid laws and regulations present many pitfalls for those who try to engage in that process on their own without working with a competent elder law attorney. A recent…

October 30, 2015 admin

Understanding Your Social Security Benefits Two popular social security claiming strategies will be gone if the bi-partisan budget now being proposed is signed into law by the President. File and Suspend Under this strategy, a higher earner at full retirement age (currently 66) can claim his benefit, enabling his lower-earning spouse to claim a spousal…

October 27, 2015 admin

Q: What is the Legal Significance of Scores in Mental Status Exams? A:  In a recent decision in a complicated and long-running guardianship case, an appellate court in Illinois highlights the tricky issue of how should courts value scores given by evaluators on mental status exams in guardianship cases. The opinion in Estate of Koenen, issued…

October 12, 2015 admin

Q  Do I still need life insurance after my kids are out of the house? A  The need for life insurance is very different depending upon your circumstances and so are the types of life insurance to fill those needs. The issue of needing life insurance is a long and drawn out analysis, however, the following…

October 7, 2015 admin

Another recent example why certain tasks like surgery, bomb disposal and estate planning generally are not do it yourself tasks:  A recent court decision in Minnesota serves as a cautionary reminder to anyone thinking of altering their estate plan on their own. Esther Sullivan executed a will in 2006, that gave half of her property…

August 26, 2015 admin

Q: When is it better to take a pension versus a lump sum payout? A:  As always, it depends.  If you are in good health and/or married, in most cases the pension is the better deal.  With most pensions you have a joint and survivor annuity option that allows your spouse (wives usually outlive their…

August 25, 2015 admin

This is a tricky question because every power of attorney is different and therein lies the confusion.  There are two types of triggers for an agent under a power of attorney to be authorized to start acting for the principal.  The first is a Springing Power of Attorney.  In this type of instrument there is…

July 2, 2015 admin

Elder Law Defined What is Elder Law? Elder Law is an extension and refinement of estate planning. In addition to addressing general planning needs like wills, trusts and medical and financial powers of attorney, an Elder Law attorney can help you decide what type of care options exist for your older loved one and how…

July 1, 2015 admin

Will Medicaid Have a Claim on My Mother-in-Law’s Interest in Our House? Q:  My mother-in-law is on the deed to my wife’s and my home. If she moves into a nursing home, will Medicaid try to claim an interest in my home? How can I prevent them from doing this? Must I transfer the interest…

July 1, 2015 admin

2015 Spousal Impoverishment and Home Equity Figures Released The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released its Spousal Impoverishment Standards for 2015 : The official spousal impoverishment allowances for 2015 are as follows (we include Medicaid’s home equity limits): Minimum Community Spouse Resource Allowance: $23,844 Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance: $119,220 Maximum Monthly Maintenance…

June 16, 2015 admin

Can I Transfer Mom’s Life Insurance to Help Her Qualify for Medicaid? Q: The nursing home has initiated a Medicaid application for my mother but I have not yet been contacted. Her life insurance policy’s cash value exceeds Medicaid’s $1,500 resource limit. Can I still transfer ownership of the policy? A: The general rule is…

June 16, 2015 admin

People often ask me about Pay on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (Transfer on Death) accounts (or they tell me of them after the fact which is worse). These are accounts which pay to a designated beneficiary outside of the probate process upon the presentation of a death certificate to the custodian.  Probate is…

May 6, 2015 admin

Q: My mother-in-law is on the deed to my wife’s and my home. If she moves into a nursing home, will Medicaid try to claim an interest in my home? How can I prevent them from doing this? Must I transfer the interest in the property prior to her moving? She no longer earns an…